CATL Commits $1.4 Billion to Develop Lithium Production Plants in Bolivia

The investment is expected to increase to $9.92 billion by 2025


China-based battery manufacturing and technology company Contemporary Amperex Technology (CATL) has pledged an investment of $1.4 billion to build two lithium production plants that will utilize Direct Extraction of Lithium technology and will be located in the salt flats of Uyuni, Potosí, and Coipasa, in the city of Oruro in Bolivia.

The project’s initial phase aims to achieve an annual lithium production of approximately 200,000 tons.

CATL is considering the possibility of increasing investments to optimize production and operate more efficiently by 2025. The investment is expected to rise from $1.4 billion to $9.92 billion.

The announcement was made by the Minister of Hydrocarbons and Energies, Franklin Molina Ortiz, who highlighted the significance of this investment in the energy sector and positioning Bolivia as a sovereign player in the lithium industry.

Minister Molina said, “This investment marks a milestone in the energy history of our country and consolidates Bolivia as a benchmark in the industrialization of lithium. Additionally, it is a step towards energy transition with sovereignty.”

In January this year, the Bolivian State, represented by Yacimientos del Litio Bolivianos (YLB), signed an agreement with CATL BRUNP & CMOC (CBC) under the sovereign investment model, solidifying their partnership and paving the way for future collaboration.

The company said its current global market share is approximately 37%, and its clients include major electromobility players, such as Porsche, Tesla, Mercedes Benz, and Ford.

Recognizing the tourist potential of the Uyuni salt flats, the company plans to employ engineering strategies that minimize the project’s visual impact and prioritizes environmental conservation.

The engineering design would be mindful of the landscape, ensuring that it does not compromise or affect the landscape of the Uyuni salt flats, the company said in its statement.

In October last year, CATL entered a sole battery supply agreement with Primergy Solar, a U.S.-based utility-scale and distributed solar and storage company, to develop a 690 MW solar and 1,416 MWh storage project called Gemini in Nevada in the United States.

Later in December, CATL and Gresham House Energy Storage Holdings entered into a long-term agreement for supplying up to 7.5 GWh of battery energy storage systems. Both parties will endeavor to increase the scope to 10 GWh of BESS for utility-scale energy storage.